More than 50,000 additional women across Colorado are eligible for free cervical cancer screening, also known as a Pap test, under a Jan. 1 expansion by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Women’s Wellness Connection.
The program has been screening low-income women ages 40 through 64 for breast and cervical cancer at 120 clinics for nearly 25 years. The program now is offering free cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to women ages 21 through 64. Multiple medical organizations recommend cervical cancer screening via Pap test starting at age 21.
“Each January during Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, we remind women that screening saves lives,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, department executive director and chief medical officer. “This year, we are expanding our services for young women who can least afford screening so we can help them stay cancer-free.”
Women’s Wellness Connection is expanding eligibility to include younger women who may not have the income or insurance coverage to pay for these important screening services. To qualify, women must earn less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level, be in the United States legally, and have no health insurance or have health insurance with high deductibles or co-pays.
There currently are an estimated 37,800 women eligible for the services. An additional 54,800 women could be eligible for cervical cancer screening under the new guidelines.
Women also are eligible for a number of diagnostic procedures. Women can check eligibility and clinic locations at the Women’s Wellness Connection.
Most women enrolled in the Women’s Wellness Connection who are diagnosed with cancer would qualify for treatment through Health First Colorado (Medicaid) Breast and Cervical Cancer Program.
Every year in the United States, approximately 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and about 4,000 women die of the disease. Latinas and African-American women are at higher risk for developing and dying from cervical cancer.